Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Ottawa Senators
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Still in blatant rebuild mold, the Senators added a group of seat-warmers, some more cap flexibility down the road, and added some return on expiring contracts. From a fantasy standpoint, this is to further pave the way for the big group of prospects who are fast coming up the system.
Ready for full-time – As with last season, the list of prospects who could make the jump is a big one. Last season the Sens ended adding Colin White, Christian Jaros and Brady Tkachuk on a full-time basis throughout, although a half-dozen others were up for lengthy stays at times. This season you may see more, with those prospects who were up part-time last year becoming full-timers.
Drake Batherson made a wonderful NHL debut in November last year, posting five points in his first three games with two PP goals and he made his presence felt with every shift. As happens with many young players, especially on weaker teams, the adrenalin wore off and he started giving up more chances than he helped to create. Before the opposition could feast on him too much, the Sens wisely sent him back down. In the AHL he dominated with 62 points in 59 contests. He stands a great chance of making the team this year, and will likely be in the top six right away. Hopefully your league doesn’t count plus/minus, as he won’t help you there…
Max Veronneau is a native of Ottawa who was never drafted. A prolific producer at the college level, NHL teams had been after him to sign for two years. The Sens got him and put him right in their lineup. He tallied four points in the 12 games and played with Brady Tkachuk and J-G Pageau. In the Fantasy Prospects Report we compared his upside to Reilly Smith. Read more on Veronneau here.
Rudolfs Balcers was acquired as part of the Erik Karlsson deal last year. After posting 31 points in 43 games for Belleville he was called up and remained with Ottawa for the duration. He tallied 14 points in 36 games for the big club and a roster spot is pretty much his to lose. He has intriguing upside though will probably top out as a second- or third-line tweener type.
Alex Formenton initially made the Senators on the strength of his speed. He has leadership and work ethic intangibles and has been exceptional in two consecutive training camps. Widely considered to be one of the fastest players in hockey, he’ll be an NHLer if not this year then next for sure.
Erik Brannstrom was the key to Ottawa giving up Mark Stone. One of the best defensemen not in the NHL (at the time), he is an elite puck mover and PP quarterback. Although he’s on the small side at 5-10, 173 pounds, he is positionally sound. The Sens need to give their fans an elite prospect to get excited about and Brannstrom fits that bill.
Logan Brown was Ottawa’s first-round pick in 2016 and 11th overall. A 6-6, 220-pound center is highly coveted in pro hockey, especially when they have hands like Brown’s. And he has hockey sense to go with those hands. The biggest issue is his health as he is quite injury-prone. But if he can play even 70 games per year he’ll be a real nice fantasy asset.
Ottawa Senators prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Ottawa actually finished 18th in goals scored last year but don’t let that fool you. They didn’t finish the season with that 18th-best goal-scoring team as they traded both Mark Stone and Matt Duchene (not to mention Ryan Dzingel). This year I have them dead last. It’s a team full of youngsters. Really promising youngsters, but young and unproven nonetheless. This team is going to grow together and score more goals with each passing season. But this is the bottom from which they will start. Defenseman Thomas Chabot could be the only player on the roster who will top 50 points. I do have two players reaching 49 (Colin White and Chris Tierney) and Brady Tkachuk at 47. After that, the points will be tough to come by for fantasy owners skimming through this roster for gems. Goaltending is on the weak side (Craig Anderson, Anders Nilsson). The prospect pipeline is one of the best in hockey, however, so there is hope. Besides the prospects mentioned above, Lassi Thomson is a promising defenseman the Sens drafted 19th overall in June. Josh Norris, Vitali Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson and Filip Chlapik are all promising forward prospects, each of whom are inside the Top 100 on my Fantasy Prospect forwards list. So while I would not want one of my veteran players traded to this team because it would kill their production, I would actually be pretty happy if one of my prospects was sent there.
Fantasy Grade: C- (last year was D+)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades